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07-11-15: Robert Repino Morphs 'Mort(e)'

Housecat to Harbinger of the Apocalypse

Science fiction offers readers the opportunity for a unique experience of literary tension. Typically, when we refer to tension we're talking about wanting to get to the end, to know what's going to happen. It's the primal force that keeps us reading.

In science fiction, a smart, skilled writer can craft a very different experience of tension. We can find ourselves immersed in a well-crafted completely imagined world as experienced by characters we can identify with and understand because their internal personal logic seems solid and believable even if the circumstances that created that persona are absurd. This collision between the realistic characters and unreal settings creates a tension, a dissonance that can help inspire the unique sense of wonder. Science fiction can take us out of our lives in a manner that mimetic realistic literary fiction cannot.

Robert Repino understands this well, and he uses it to fine effect in 'Mort(e),' which seamlessly melds poignant personal moments with hairy-eyed absurd adventure. This is a novel where your happy housecat is transformed into a six-foot walking wounded warrior. The animals have been uplifted, the alien invasion comes from within, and humans are on the shortlist for extinction. We so deserve it.

If it all sounds like a hodge-podge, it reads — and strikes — lightning. Repino gives us a poignant Armageddon, and a lingering love-story aftermath. Mort(e) (as a pet, named Sebastian), the uplifted housecat, is searching for his lost love, the dog who once lived next door. You read that right, and when you read the novel you'll find that you can shed a tear or two on Mort(e)'s behalf.

But you'll have a grand time in Repino's posthuman earth, where a six-legged Queen teeters on Godhood and the animals swear that they won't fall into the same traps that helped humans hurtle into self-extinction, even as said animals create governments, armies and the things that make us crazy.

Repino brings an artful feel to his prose and his plotting. You won't just buy the absurdity, you'll love it. The adventures and action scenes are amazing. He pulls off set-pieces that shouldn't work but do by virtue of great writing and characters you love and care about.

While there is quite a bit of page-turning plot, and emotional resonance, Repino also manages to pack in a lot of subversive commentary into the action and emotions. He mines the science fiction as thought-experiment tropes with unforced ease. 'Mort(e)' is weird as anything you'll read, fun, emotionally involving and lets your cat survive the end times, but not you. The sound of kibble clattering in the bowl will never be the same.



New to the Agony Column

07-11-15: Commentary : Robert Repino Morphs 'Mort(e)' : Housecat to Harbinger of the Apocalypse

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Robert Repino : "...an even bigger threat. which is us, the humans..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 209: Robert Repino : Mort(e)

07-05-15: Commentary : Dr. Michael Gazzaniga Tells Tales from Both Sides of the Brain : A Life in Neuroscience Reveals the Life of Science

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Michael Gazzaniga : "We made the first observation and BAM there was the disconnection effect..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 208: Michael Gazzaniga : Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience

06-26-15: Commentary : Neal Stephenson Crafts an Eden for 'Seveneves' : Blow It Up and Start All Over Again

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Neal Stephenson : "...and know that you're never going to se a tree again..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 207: Neal Stephenson : Seveneves

06-03-15: Commentary : Dan Simmons Opens 'The Fifth Heart' : Having it Every Way

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Dan Simmons : "...yes, they really did bring those bombs..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 206: Dan Simmons : The Fifth Heart

05-23-15: Commentary : John Waters Gets 'Carsick' : Going His Way

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with John Waters : "...you change how you would be in real life...”

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 205: John Waters : Carsick

05-09-15: Commentary : Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD and 'Shrinks' : A Most Fashionable Take on the Human Mind

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD : "..its influence to be as hegemonic as it was..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 204: Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD : Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry

04-29-15: Commentary : Barney Frank is 'Frank' : Interpersonally Ours

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Barney Frank : "...while you're trying to change it, don't ignore it..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 203: Barney Frank : Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to Same-Sex Marriage

04-21-15: Commentary : Kazuo Ishiguro Unearths 'The Buried Giant' : The Mist of Myth and Memory

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Kazuo Ishiguro : ".... by the time I was writing this novel, the lines between what was fantasy and what was real had blurred for me..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 202: Kazuo Ishiguro : The Buried Giant

04-17-15: Commentary : Erik Larson Follows a 'Dead Wake' : Countdown to Destiny

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Erik Larson : "...said to have been found in the arms of a dead German sailor..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 201: Erik Larson : Dead Wake

04-15-15: Commentary : Peter Bell Reflects 'A Certain Slant of Light' : Strange Stories of Modern Scholars

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2014 Interview with Peter Bell : "...I looked up some of the old books..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 200: Peter Bell : Strange Epiphanies and A Certain Slant of Light

03-14-15: Commentary : Marc Goodman Foresees 'Future Crimes' : Exponential Potential

Agony Column Podcast News Report : A 2015 Interview with Marc Goodman : "...every physical object around us is being transformed, one way or another, into an information technology..."

Agony Column Podcast News Report UPDATE: Time to Read Episode 199: Marc Goodman : Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It

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